Investigation into workers withdrawing UIF Ters funds and paying it to farmer
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Cape Town - Police are investigating a fraud case after a Graafwater farm owner allegedly defrauded five workers of their Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) money.
Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said the investigations were continuing and there were no arrests.
Rural and Farmworkers Development Organisation director Billy Claasen said the farmer allegedly paid Ters as a lump sum, which he then paid into the workers accounts.
However, Claasen said the farmer then took the workers to the bank to withdraw the money and made them pay it to him.
The organisation, accompanied by Labour Department chief inspector David Esau, visited the farm on Monday. However, the farmer was nowhere to be found.
Ex-cop Jimmy Swartz, who investigated the incident, said he was approached by one of the five farmworkers, who told him of how they had been withdrawing money from their accounts for the owner.
“They told me that as from April, the farmer has been taking them to town to withdraw money from their accounts and would pay it to him. The money was drawn on different days until it was finished. For example, a
R3 500 payment will be drawn for three days until there is none left on the account. At first, the employees said the owner told them the money was a loan he applied for on their behalf,” he said.
Swartz said the workers had been working through lockdown and receiving their full salaries, and that they were not eligible for the Ters. He said the three employees were told to take a week off, while the other two’s whereabouts were not known.
Esau said the employer may be prosecuted for defrauding the fund, and that the department was working with other government agencies to locate the employer.